Your brain is one of the most important organs of your body. It is responsible for your emotion, system coordination, and intelligence. As you age, your brain starts to lose its vigor. You’ll find that you cannot remember everything easily as you did when you were younger. This is not entirely a cause for worry. There is a secret to keep your mind sharp and bright. Scientists have actually established a link between a plant-based diet and brain health.
What is Brain Health?
Your brain allows you to perceive the world around you, manage your life, and make decisions every day, among others tasks. Your brain health determines your capacity to concentrate, remember, play, learn, and maintain an active and clear mind. It processes the information that it is exposed to, ‘files’ them accordingly, or makes decisions based on them.
Plant-Based Diet and Brain Health
Studies have proven that a vegan diet not only improves your body weight, blood flow, and sugar levels, but also your emotional state, intelligence, and cognitive functioning. This is made possible because of the high levels of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients found in plant-based meals. Such meal plans are high in vitamin A, K, D, and B vitamins as well as iodine, zinc, DHA, Omega-3, and many more.
Here’s how these nutrients affect brain health:
- Vitamin A
Vitamin A boosts brain functions such as learning, memory, and vision. It is also involved in reproduction, cellular communication, and immune function. Furthermore, this vitamin also supports cell differentiation and cell growth. It plays an important role in the development and maintenance of the lungs, heart, kidney, and other vital organs.
Three kinds of vitamin A are available in plant foods. Beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and alpha-carotene are plant pigments that your body converts to vitamin A. These three are classified as provitamin A carotenoids. They are converted to retinoic and retinal acid, the active forms of vitamin A.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D regulates calcium levels, protects neurons from too much oxidation, and boosts the brain’s memory center. Many forms of Vitamin D exist. The vitamin D found in plant food is Vitamin D2 or ergocalciferol.
- Vitamin K
Two forms of Vitamin K are abundant in vegetables and fruits. They are the Vitamin K1 phylloquinone and K2 menaquinone. Vitamin K2, the essential vitamin that your brain needs, supports the overall health of your brain. Vitamin K1 is found in animal-based foods, but it isn’t enough to supplement brain functions. This is why people turn to natto since it contains large amounts of K2.
- Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
This is an essential vitamin since your body cannot synthesize RNA, red blood cells, DNA, and myelin without it. Low levels of vitamin B12 in the body causes mental illnesses, including psychosis, dementia, personality disorders, and mania.
ALSO READ: Vitamin B12 Deficiency, A Silent Epidemic
- B Vitamins
Many B vitamins, such as vitamin B1 up to B9, exist in plant foods. These vitamins work together to build molecules, support the metabolism of serotonin, and extract energy and nutrients from the food that you eat.
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The brain needs iron for cell signaling, memory, and brain development, and for the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.
Some may say that plant foods are low in iron. On the contrary, grains, beans, nuts, oats, and seeds are excellent sources of iron. Not all vegetables and fruits can provide your iron needs, but there are still plant foods that do not only serve as protein supplements but can also address iron deficiency.
A plant-based diet is an excellent source of zinc. Zinc helps in cell signaling, vitamin B6 activations, and serotonin synthesis. Cocoa, cashew, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, mushroom, and spinach have high amounts of zinc that your body can absorb.
The brain is susceptible to oxidative stress. Too much oxidation damages proteins and cells. Antioxidants are substances that prevent oxidation. They shield the body from free radicals. Vitamin C, selenium and beta-carotene are antioxidants found in certain vegetables and fruits such as berries, avocado, asparagus, tomato, onion, garlic, cabbage, and many others.
Remember that the brain is an irreplaceable organ of the body. Everything about you is contained inside it. To protect your mind and body from damage, it is important to limit your meat intake and shift to a plant-based diet. Exclude nitrites and nitrates from your diet and focus on your plant-based diet and brain health to live longer, maximize your brain’s ability, and reduce the risks of developing mental illnesses.
Thanks for reading. Until next time!
Crazy cat lady, life and food lover, certified biologist, and holistic health coach.